The German senior male soccer team is the reigning FIFA World Cup Champions. What we are seeing of them today is not an accident. German football is burgeoning, reaping the rewards of the strategy drawn up after the dismal performances at Euro 2000, when Germany finished bottom of their group. Forced into an overhaul of youth football where a 14- year plan to find the kids among 80 million Germans who can really play football, train them young and get them attached to a professional team, the Deutscher Fussball Bund (DFB), the organisation responsible for Germany’s national team and the Bundesliga clubs decided that the development of more technically proficient homegrown players would be in everyone’s best interest. This led to the creation of academies across the top two divisions. The fruits are there for all to see. The current set-up is blessed with a generation of gifted young players- Julian Draxler, Andre Schurrle,Thomas Muller,Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Leroy Sane… the list goes on and there are more coming through.
Growing up in Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana, I became an ardent follower of juvenile or colt’s football. I found it engrossing because an avalanche of talent was displayed every Saturday. I used to skip my Saturday class just to catch a glimpse of Stephen Oduro, Joe Louis,Abubakar Yahuza,Kwadwo Poku, Edmund Owusu Ansah, Yussif Alhassan Chibsah, Patrick Duodu among others. These players all had stint with at least one of male National teams. All match venues was crowded to the extent that, people were seen precariously following the action on trees, standing on top of cars, lorries and so on. The likes of Anokye Stars, Cornerstone Babies, Kaloum Stars,State Envoys and Sports Council, Hearts Babies and Kotoko Babies were a delight to watch. Matches involving the aforementioned clubs were tumultuous, controversial, and very important to these clubs.
Discussions at soccer concourses can’t also end without featuring any of these clubs. The intensity and immensity of the rivalry between these clubs, in the least terms be aptly described as sui generis and unparalleled- one that cripples a whole kingdom and takes a toll on economic activities in anticipation of a grueling scintillating duels. Each boasts of a massive support base; constantly exploiting the disadvantaged situations of one another, all as part of gaining supremacy over the others.
The halcyon days of Ghana’s football era ushered her into the realm of a powerful nation within football circles earning the moniker “The Brazilians of African football” which it held for years, was by no fluke as the clinching of the 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 African Cup of Nations trophies stand as ample evidence. Even though, they boast of having three successive world cup appearances, the Black Stars are still chasing after their fifth Nations cup trophy. They narrowly missed out on the trophy in 2010 and 2013. At youth level, Ghana was a force to reckon with. The National U-17 team, the Black Starlets is won the championship twice, in 1991 and 1995. The National U-20 team, the Black Satellites in 2009 became the first and only African country win the coveted FIFA U-20 trophy that had eluded the continent for years.
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